AWS vs Google Cloud vs Microsoft Azure: How to Choose the Right Cloud Platform
As the digital landscape continues to expand and evolve, embracing the cloud environment is becoming essential for companies that want to save costs and open up application modernization capabilities. Today, 24% of businesses use a public cloud, 72% a hybrid, and 4% a private cloud only. However, a prevailing issue for organizations is choosing the cloud provider that is most beneficial for their specific needs.
In this article, we will compare and contrast the 3 most popular cloud providers –Amazon Web Services vs. Google Cloud vs. Azure . Drawing from our 13+ years experience with over 100 successful projects and 9000+ features developed, we will also share the 3 top-priority aspects that will help you choose the best cloud provider for your particular business case.
Why Do You Need a Cloud Provider?
Using the cloud can save businesses 30-50% of their tech budget, increase innovation and competition, promote scalability, enable application access from anywhere in the world, and much more. It can also help increase the development team’s productivity by 30% and reduce downtime by up to 30%.
Collaboration with cloud providers can significantly ease the burdens of working with applications and overcome substantial challenges. These include infrastructure management, scalability and elasticity, application deployment and management, security and compliance, collaboration, and connectivity.
Cloud Infrastructure Management
Cloud providers can relieve businesses from having to deal with purchasing, configuring, and maintaining physical, on-premises hardware. They manage and maintain the underlying infrastructure, including servers, storage, networking, and data centers.
Scalability and Elasticity of the Cloud
By working with a cloud provider, organizations can easily scale up or down based on demand. This helps them grow without disruption, using different data storage options and tools that accommodate increased traffic, processing power, and user demands.
Cloud Application Deployment and Management
Cloud providers facilitate the deployment and management of applications and services. They offer platforms that enable businesses to host and run their applications in the cloud, providing tools for monitoring, scaling, and managing the application lifecycle.
Cloud Security and Compliance
Cloud providers often comply with industry-specific regulations, easing the burden for businesses. They also prioritize security and provide disaster recovery solutions. Specifically, to protect the data, providers implement encryption, firewalls, access controls, security monitoring systems, etc. They provide backup and replication services, enabling organizations to quickly recover their data and applications and minimize downtime in case of disruptions or failures.
Collaboration and Connectivity
Cloud providers often offer collaboration and communication tools such as email services, document sharing, video conferencing, and project management platforms. This enables teams to access their applications and real-time data and work effectively from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.
AWS vs Azure vs GCP: Technical Differences
There are hundreds of specialty cloud providers, but for most of the “plain vanilla” scenarios, the relevant choice is among the three market leaders – AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud. Combined, they control 65% of the market share.
To determine how to choose the most beneficial cloud provider for a particular business case, it is important to understand the differences each of the market leaders has. Let’s compare the Google Cloud vs AWS vs Azure in terms of their ease of use, availability zones, services (compute, storage, networking, AI/ML), privacy and security, and pricing.
Cloud Ease of Use
The ease of use is ultimately the most subjective aspect to compare, as it depends on individuals’ preferences and previous usage experience. However, AWS is often argued to be the most user-friendly due to its simplicity, flow of documentation, and comprehensible dashboards.
Google Cloud has a developer-friendly approach, adequate documentation, and clarity. Azure’s benefit is in integrating well with Microsoft’s suite of products, which is appealing to Microsoft-centric organizations.
Cloud Availability Zones
In terms of availability, Azure covers the most extensive number of geographic regions. Yet, all three cloud providers continuously expand, adding more zones, locations, and regions.
As of July 2023, the specific numbers are:
- Amazon Web Services has 31 launched regions, 99 availability zones, 400+ edge locations, and 13 regional edge caches, with plans for 15 more availability zones and 5 more AWS regions in Canada, Israel, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Thailand.
- Microsoft Azure is available in 52+ regions around the world, and there are a minimum of 3 separate availability zones present in all availability zone-enabled regions.
- Google Cloud Platform has 37 regions, 112 zones, 187 network edge locations and is available in 200+ countries and territories.
All three providers offer cloud solutions specifically for the government. AWS and Azure also operate in China, providing Chinese market-oriented services.
When it comes to services, both AWS and Azure offer 200+ solutions, and Google Cloud offers 100+ solutions. However, all three cloud vendors constantly launch new possibilities and target the latest technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), serverless computing, and much more. What we consider the most demonstrative are computing, storage, networking, and artificial intelligence/machine learning services.
Within the compute category, here are the services offered by cloud providers in different groups:
|Virtual Machines (VMs)||Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)||Azure Virtual Machines||Google Compute Engine|
|Containerization and Orchestration:||Elastic Container Service (ECS)||Azure Container Instances (ACI)||Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE)|
|Serverless Computing||AWS Lambda||Azure Functions||Google Cloud Functions|
|Specialized Compute||AWS Batch, AWS HPC, AWS Snow Family, AWS Outposts||Azure Batch, Azure CycleCloud, Azure Stack||VMs, Google Cloud HPC, Anthos|
Storage-wise, here is a classification of what storage services AWS/Azure/GCP have to offer:
|Object storage||S3||Blob Storage||Cloud Storage|
|File storage (IOPS)||Elastic File System (EFS)||Files||Filestore|
|Block Storage||Elastic Block Store (EBS)||Disk Storage||Persistent Disks|
|Archive Storage||Glacier||Archive Storage||Storage Archive|
|Database Storage||Amazon RDS, Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon Redshift||Azure SQL Database, Azure Cosmos DB, Azure Synapse Analytics||Cloud SQL, Cloud Firestore, BigQuery|
All three cloud service providers also offer additional storage-related services, such as content delivery networks (CDNs), backup and recovery solutions, data transfer services, and more.
The specific storage capabilities and features evolve over time, so it’s better to check the official documentation for the most up-to-date information and to align them with your specific requirements.
AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud offer a plethora of network capabilities for their customers, which can be classified into several groups:
|Virtual Networks and Connectivity||Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) allows you to provision logically isolated virtual networks||Azure Virtual Network (VNet) enables the creation of private networks in the cloud||Google Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) allows the creation of private networks in GCP|
|Load Balancing and Traffic Management||Elastic Load Balancing (ELB) services||Azure Load Balancer, Azure Application Gateway, Azure Traffic Manager||Google Cloud Load Balancing, Cloud CDN|
|Hybrid Networking and Connectivity||AWS Direct Connect, AWS Transit Gateway||Azure ExpressRoute, Azure Virtual WAN||Cloud Interconnect, Partner Interconnect|
|Network Security||Virtual Private Network (VPN), network access control lists (ACLs), AWS Firewall Manager||Network security groups (NSGs), virtual network service endpoints, Azure Firewall, Azure DDoS Protection||VPC firewall rules, Cloud Armor, VPC Service Controls, Google Cloud Armor|
Each provider offers additional networking services, such as DNS management, network monitoring, network analytics, and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) protection.
Cloud Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning
AWS, Azure, and GCP all offer robust network capabilities for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML).
|Pre-built AI Services||Amazon Rekognition, Amazon Polly, Amazon Lex||Computer Vision, Text Analytics, Speech Services, and Language Understanding (LUIS)||Cloud Vision API, Cloud Natural Language API, Cloud Text-to-Speech API|
|ML Frameworks and Toolkits||Amazon SageMaker||Azure Machine Learning||Google Cloud AI Platform|
AWS also provides additional AI/ML features such as Amazon Personalize for personalized recommendations, Amazon Forecast for time-series forecasting, and AWS DeepLens for deep learning on edge devices. Azure offers additional features such as Azure Cognitive Search for AI-powered search capabilities and Azure Bot Service for building conversational agents. Google Cloud provides features like AutoML, which enables training custom machine learning models, and Cloud AutoML Vision for custom image recognition models.
Each provider offers pre-built AI services, support for popular ML frameworks, GPU-accelerated instances, and deployment options for model serving.
Comparing the pricing for AWS, Azure, and GCP is complex, as it depends on a variety of factors, such as service usage, instance types, storage options, data transfer, and geographic regions. All of the service providers have similar market prices, and there is no leader in this category.
To demonstrate the pricing fluctuations, our team conducted research on common technical requirements for some SMB size web-store:
Cloud Privacy and Security
In terms of security, Azure’s customers are responsible for information and data, the devices they use, and user accounts. At the same time, the provider is responsible for physical hosts, networks, and data centers. The responsibility for other aspects depends on the service type.
With AWS, clients are responsible for the data they keep in the cloud (e.g., user accounts, operating system, server-side encryption, etc.), while the provider ensures that the cloud’s hardware and software are safe and secure.
Google doesn’t control security on the operating system, packages, or applications customers deploy on GCP. They created a Customer Responsibility Matrix, which describes the GCP/customer/shared responsibilities in detail.
Here is the list of some security services all three providers offer:
|Security and Compliance||Amazon Inspector||Azure Security Center||Trust and Security Center|
|Service Protection||Shield||DDOS Protection||Google Cloud Armor, Google Cloud DDoS Protection|
|Secrets Management||AWS Secrets Manager||Key Vault||GCP Secrets Manager|
AWS also provides AWS Security Hub for centralized security management, AWS WAF for web application firewall, and AWS Firewall Manager for centralized firewall management. Azure offers Azure Firewall for network-level security, Azure Sentinel for cloud-native SIEM and SOAR, and others. GCP provides Google Cloud Security Command Center for security management and threat detection.
Find out how to migrate legacy applications to the cloud
How to Choose the Right Cloud Service Provider For Your Business Purposes
Before choosing the cloud provider, we recommend analyzing the goals and needs of your particular organization. These will serve as guidelines for determining the most important criteria for cloud provider comparison. Then, it is important to review the technical details and other aspects to weigh the pros and cons and finally decide. If choosing a cloud provider is a part of your business application modernization process, you could also consider developing a separate application modernization roadmap.
Although there are many points to pay attention to and include in the decision-making process, the most important ones that everyone should consider before making a choice are pricing, benefits and bonuses, and team expertise.
First and foremost, it is important to understand the provider’s pricing structure, which includes compute, storage, network, and data transfer costs. We recommend evaluating the available pricing models, such as pay-as-you-go, reserved instances, or spot instances. This will help to determine the most cost-effective approach for your usage patterns.
When calculating it, I advise businesses to include the expenses on services they need now and those that will theoretically be needed in a year or two for their particular case, taking into account inflation. Serhii Kopeikin, COO at Maven
Cloud Benefits and Bonuses
Along with explicit pricing, we recommend paying attention to the benefits and bonuses sales teams offer for your particular business.
Team Expertise of the Cloud
It is also important to pay attention to the expertise of a business’s in-house team.
This cannot be perceived as a dogma, but certain types of companies are often attracted to particular cloud providers, which may help you understand the direction to aim towards. For example:
- AWS is the largest and most mature cloud provider and is beneficial for businesses with a broad spectrum of services offered. It has a large ecosystem, comprehensive documentation, and a strong market presence. AWS is also often preferred by enterprises with complex requirements or those already invested in the Amazon ecosystem.
- Azure is often chosen by companies that run Windows and actively use Microsoft products (e.g. Microsoft 365, Microsoft SQL) as this eases up the migration and smoothes change management processes. Azure also offers comprehensive services, strong hybrid cloud capabilities, and seamless integration with on-premises infrastructure.
- Google Cloud may be better for companies interested in cloud-native operations (e.g. Kubernetes, Google Workplace, Istio), as well as those looking for opportunities to use artificial intelligence, advanced machine learning, and big data analytics for growth.
Having a cloud provider can significantly ease the burdens of working with applications – especially when it comes to infrastructure management, scalability and elasticity, application deployment and management, security and compliance, collaboration, and connectivity.
If you choose between Amazon Web Services vs Azure vs Google Cloud as the reliable market leaders, some technical aspects to consider are ease of use, availability zones, services, pricing and security. It is particularly important to consider pricing, benefits, and bonuses offered by cloud providers for a particular case, as well as existing in-house expertise.
If your business considers cloud migration, Maven Solutions can help achieve the most beneficial result. For over 13 years, our passionate team has committed to success and has built long-term partnerships with transparency and dedication for a win-win result in cooperation. Send us a message to talk about your case!
What is The Key Difference Between AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud?
Fundamentally, all three providers are very similar, and the main difference is in the benefit offerings they provide for specific businesses. Notably, Azure covers the biggest number of geographic regions, and both AWS and Azure have the most extensive portfolios of services.
Which One is More Cost-Saving: AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud?
Each provider offers different market-compatible pricing structures and options, so comparing them generally is impossible. We advise using official AWS/Azure/GCP calculators and determining the price advantage for your particular business case.
How to Choose the Right Cloud Technology for My Product?
Firstly, determine your goals and needs. Secondly, research which cloud providers offer the most suitable solutions for you. Then, compare the prices and benefits of each and make a decision based on your specific priorities.
What is the Best Cloud Platform?
Determining the best cloud platform depends on your specific requirements, preferences, and priorities. Each major cloud platform, including AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud (GCP), has its own strengths and features that make them suitable for different use cases. However, the choice often depends on the pricing and benefits cloud providers offer specifically for your case.